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Monday, January 16, 2012

Couponing 101 ~ Getting Started

I'm going to start off with a minor disclaimer.  I am not a pro, and I have only been doing this couponing hobby for a couple months.  But it's fun for me, kind of relaxing at times, and I love the money-saving rush.  So here's a little info on how to get started, if you're looking to start!

The first thing you need, obviously, is some coupons.  This week there was only one insert in the paper, but I bought 2 papers (plus my mother-in-law gave me her coupons!)

Don't forget the store fliers!  I usually pull out Price Chopper, ShopRite and CVS.  You can find coupons in them as well, and you can usually stack a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon!  Not to mention these beauties that Price Chopper offered this week:

Now, I cut pretty much every coupon.  Here's why.  You never know what kind of a deal you might get.  Especially at CVS.  With their Extra Bucks rewards, sometimes you can get back the same amount that you spend.  And if it's not a product you'll use, give it away!  (I love that part of couponing.)  :)

What exactly do I do with all those coupons?  I'm glad you asked.  Enter: my binder.  Don't be ashamed, it's the way to go.  I pull this baby out in the grocery store all the time.  Some people might look at me strange, it's true, but I like to think they're just jealous.

Baseball card holders work great for holding coupons.  If I have duplicates I put them all in the same slot...and try to put the earliest expiring coupon in the front.  Notice my mistake with the Johnsonville Chicken Sausage?  There are 2 of the same coupon in different sections.  Whoops.

When I first started I didn't have all the sections...but they're really necessary.  The more coupons you get, the harder it is to find what you need.  I can find any coupon I need really fast this way.

Check out this awesome coupon.  We love 50 cents off, because it doubles to $1!

And even better...75 cents off that doubles to $1.50!

The way to really save money with coupons is to combine them with sales.  After I cut out all my coupons (and breeze through my binder to remind myself of what other coupons I have) I pull out the store fliers and go through them very carefully.  Sometimes I even check prices online for a BOGO offer, among other things.

I write my list very thoroughly.  I write what the item is, what the price of the item is, what my coupon is, how many coupons I have, how many of the item I need to buy, and what my final price will be.  My next blog will be my list for this week, so you'll see exactly what I mean.

Before I go to the store I pull out all the coupons I plan on using and put them in an envelope.  I also bring my binder along just in case I find other good deals while I'm shopping.  (I find something every time!)  As I shop, I cross things off my list when I get them.  If I don't buy them for some reason (can't find them, store is out, I've spent too much) I circle the item so that when I'm at the checkout I can easily see which coupons I need to take out of my envelope before I hand them over to the cashier.

That's couponing, in a nutshell.  At least the way I do it!  Again, I'll be back in a little bit with my match-ups for the week.  I'd love any suggestions, comments, ways to do it I said, I'm a novice!  But it's a fun hobby that saves money.  I don't think I'll ever go back to shopping the way I used to!!


Brian said...

Awesome post! Been wondering how you got started!

Rachel said...

I've been clipping coupons for a while now too - but I'm no coupon hero. Average $15-20 in coupons each week though and I am totally addicted. :)

Rachel said...

I know i already commented but...I was in Atlanta this past weekend, and I clipped my coupons there on Sunday. Nick also bought me a paper here at home so when I got back I clipped those as well. Here's my question: WHY ARE THE ATL COUPONS BETTER THAN MINE?!? Do you have any insight on this? I must knowwww. Like all my annoying $1 off 2 items coupons here were like $0.75 off 1 item down there. From the same inserts, for the same products. And now I'm annoyed that the TLC people clearly are using better coupons than me and that's why they're so awesome at it?

Lynn said...

Some places have better coupons, some have worse. My guess is the prices vary from place to place, so they change the coupon amounts? I don't know. Just another way we get screwed living in NY, I guess. It is annoying though. I wish we could get overages, that would be awesome. Where do you shop out there?

Rachel said...

I shop at Tops - they double up to one dollar every day. And they also give me 10 extra gas points per coupon.